A December article from Health Education & Behavior, wanted to test the thesis that if we take junk food out of schools, kids will compensate by pigging out at home or elsewhere.
Over a 2 year period, researchers studied six middle schools in the Northeast. The research was led by Marlene Schwartz, Ph.D., deputy director at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. Three of the schools replaced potato chips, doughnuts, soft drinks and cookies with water, 100% fruit juice, baked chips, granola bars, and fruit. Three other schools maintained their existing food regimen.
Guess what happened?
What you need to know:
According to Schwartz – “we found that when you take soda and high-fat snacks out of schools, students did not compensate at home. Instead, they ate better at school and no worse at home.”
So why aren’t all schools rushing to rid themselves of junk food?
The answer, as usual, is money.
Children are a huge market for food manufacturers. Selling snacks and beverages at schools is a huge business opportunity and it creates lifelong loyalty. Just ask a Coke exec who once said “get them while they’re young”.
Schools benefit from junk food sales too, by getting a commission on sales from vending machines. The dimes and quarters quickly add up to 6 figure sums that help many a school under severe financial burden.
Thankfully more and more schools are realizing that the long term benefits of healthy eating outweigh the short term financial gain.
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